The following is an essay originally published in online political magazine Cutting Edge in February 2022.
That in 2022 the UK should be teetering on the edge of a precipice, that it should stand on the verge of a complete breakdown of civil authority, now strikes many as being an outcome which was both utterly avoidable and peculiarly inevitable. Obvious policy options which, adopted in a timely fashion, could have prevented the disastrous collapse that British politics is now clearly heading into were left unimplemented due to a devastating combination of two factors: a chronic emphasis on the short term at the expense of genuine political vision, and a vague sense of unreality about the nature of the difficulties the country faced. Here we will briefly review the most recent of those events that have led this country towards its greatest crisis since the Second World War, and which have left the future of this nation shrouded in darkness and uncertainty.
It is fitting that this recap should start with the failure of attempts to reform immigration policy, given that it was the admission of vast numbers of Muslims to the UK in the first place that created the problems we now face. Attempts in 2008 by the Labour government of Gordon Brown to introduce a new points-based immigration system ended in only partial success, due to concerted pressure from existing immigrant communities, the business lobby, and other pressure groups. The threshold for acceptance on skills grounds remained relatively low, and, with points being generously awarded to those with relatives already in the country, the influx of large numbers of Muslims, predominantly of South Asian origin, continued virtually unabated.
The growth rate of the Muslim population thus remained high, at approximately 3% per annum. In January of this year, just last month, a classified government report putting the total number of Muslims in the country at 3,750,000 was leaked to and published by the Daily Telegraph. Given that official statistics maintained that the UK Muslim population was in fact no more than 3 million, this came as an acute embarrassment to a Conservative government desperately trying to maintain its own authority in the face of an ongoing collapse of both civil society and law and order.
With attempts to substantially reduce the number of Muslims coming into the UK so effectively and disastrously crippled, and the continued high birth rates of UK Muslims, it was fairly clear that that most infrequently spotted of rare beasts, moderate Islam, was the only real hope the country had of avoiding a severe breakdown of law and order at some point. Unfortunately, it was conspicuous mainly by its absence. Indeed, the growing UK Muslim population not only emboldened those Muslims whose political ambitions were dictated to them by their religion, but also reduced the degree of contact the average Muslim had with wider British society and gave would-be reformers less room to manoeuvre.
In short, the UK was not proving to be any more successful than any other Western European country in integrating its rapidly growing Muslim population into the country at large. The sweeping victory of the Conservative party in the 2010 general election was credited not only to disillusionment with 13 years of Labour government, but also to rising alarm at ongoing mass immigration and a sense of concern, albeit it inchoate and still rarely expressed openly, at the mushrooming Muslim population of the UK. These feelings were heightened by the Paris Metro bombings of October 2009, which killed nearly 200 people and wounded 1,500, and the murders in the same month of two of the Danish cartoonists responsible for the notorious Jyllands-Posten cartoons of 2005. White flight, be it to the countryside or out of the country itself, continued unabated at the high levels seen in the first decade of the millennium. That a gradual population exchange was taking place was increasingly acknowledged by political and media figures after the Conservative election victory.
Regrettably, it was evident soon after they came to power that the Conservatives were no more in possession of the political will required to combat Islamization than Labour had been. After 13 years out of power, the party moved extremely cautiously on issues of race and immigration so as not to confirm the doubts many still had about its true attitudes in this regard. To what extent they actually believed the pieties their spokesmen mouthed on these contentious topics is debatable. That they failed to achieve any significant immigration reform is not. Though successful in introducing a cap on immigrants from developing countries, grounds for exemptions were too numerous for the program to be as effective as supporters had hoped. As a result, Muslim immigration was barely dented, though the new government did its best to pretend otherwise.
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Other mistakes were not long in coming. In the interests of ‘safeguarding the role of religion in society’ and ‘reaffirming the dignity of faith,’ the Conservative Party succeeded where Labour had failed in passing a new bill that amended the Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006 to forbid ‘insulting’ or ‘ridiculing’ religion. Overcoming stiff opposition from its own MPs as well as the renewed objections of the House of Lords, the Conservatives succeeded in ramming the legislation through. The most charitable interpretation of this move was that the government had hoped that stamping down hard on potentially provocative acts would give them greater freedom of movement in combating Islamization at its roots. Less charitable interpretations were not uncommon.
Either way, the new legislation accomplished none of its aims. On the contrary, despite a number of early successes in prosecuting some relatively marginal figures, blowback was severe and devastating. A number of high profile figures, including a Conservative MP, a prominent Times columnist, and a Labour peer, publicly made claims about Islam and Muslims that were clearly illegal under the new legislation. Though the guilty parties denied coordinating their activities, it was widely believed that, well before the legislation was even passed, concerned individuals in positions of influence had formed a strategy for playing chicken with the government over the issue. Police investigations into the three wrongdoers were quickly abandoned as the Crown Prosecution Service concluded in its wisdom that there were no grounds for prosecution. With its nose thus bloodied, the government retreated from trying to enforce this new law, its only achievements being a damaged Conservative Party, livid Muslim lobbyists, and outraged civil libertarians.
Leaving this debacle to one side, the first two years of the new Conservative government were marked mainly by a very gradual erosion of the authority of the state due to worsening Islamization and attendant problems. The fraction of the prison population consisting of Muslims crept slowly upwards, as did the number of Muslims telling pollsters they thought Muslim apostates should be executed. But this was business as usual for a country which had determinedly shut its eyes to or simply explained away these and other similar problems for decades.
Not so the conflagration of November 2012, during which massive rioting of the sort seen in Bradford and Oldham in 2001 swept across Muslim ghettoes throughout the country on a far greater scale than had ever been witnessed before. Earlier that day, three white men charged with murder after the August shooting of two Muslims at a mosque in Tower Hamlets, London, had been acquitted on a technicality. In a manner reminiscent of the LA riots of 1990, a violent incident between a group of Pakistani youths and the white owner of a hardware store in East London then spiralled rapidly out of control. Mobile phones were used not only to rally gangs of rioters throughout London, but throughout the entire country. The riots, though contained in London itself through the deployment of 2,000 riot police backed up by armed units, spilled out of control in parts of the North of the country, with a patchwork of commercial and residential areas across the region left vulnerable to the depredations of rioters and looters.
In a particularly ominous tactical shift, organized arson attacks were conducted in Blackburn during the riots. In a fashion suggesting a high degree of preparation and planning on the part of the perpetrators, entire streets in one residential area were torched by mobile squads of Muslim arsonists working with military precision. The ongoing chaos ensured a tardy and poorly conducted response on the part of emergency services. Though only two people were killed, entire rows of terraced houses were gutted, with property damage estimated as being in excess of a hundred million pounds. Even where the riots were largely contained, running street battles between gangs of whites, Muslims of various ethnic and national backgrounds, and other ethnic minorities resulted in 87 deaths across the country (including those killed in the Blackburn arson attacks), over a thousand injured (including 189 police), and hundreds of millions of pounds of property damage.
These riots, later dubbed the Haram Riots after a throwaway comment on a heated post-riot current affairs programme, would come to be seen as a turning point in UK history. In addition to massively inflaming intercommunal relations in general (Sikhs, Jamaicans, and other ethnic minorities fought pitched battles against Muslims and occasionally against each other as the situation spiralled out of control), they made it painfully clear just how difficult the state was finding it to contain the problems unleashed by mass Muslim immigration, let alone resolve them. Key figures in instigating the violence were never brought to justice, and the aftermath of the riots saw the introduction of no particular policies designed to ameliorate underlying social rifts. Indeed, the only concrete response on the part of the government was the establishment of a specialist riot police force which was organizationally integrated with substantial armed response units.
This was a major departure for British law enforcement in its own right. More significant still, however, was the deployment of small numbers of army units in key areas during the Haram Riots. Though the army had been deployed during the General Strike of 1926 to protect lorries carrying food, its use to help quell severe and occasionally murderous civil unrest was unprecedented in modern British history. Reminiscent of army patrols in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, this development served to illustrate just far how intercommunal tensions were pushing the UK into uncharted territory. Minority communities started to turn inwards, as even well-integrated ethnic and religious groups edged towards voluntary segregation. Also evident within a few months of the riots was a gradual relocation of Muslims across the country, as mutual hostility saw them become increasingly concentrated in extant heavily Muslim areas. By the end of 2014, it was estimated that over 90% of Muslims in the UK lived in London, the North-East, the West Midlands, or Yorkshire and the Humber, as opposed to the figure of 82% indicated in the 2011 census. This population movement was accompanied by a commensurate shift by whites and others out of these areas.
April 2013 saw the formation of the first Muslim political party. Dedicated to the establishment of an Islamic Autonomous Zone in the North of England in which Muslims would be free to implement many aspects of Shari’a Law, the imaginatively named Islamic Party published a professionally produced manifesto in the same month. Consisting of a laundry list of Muslim demands and grievances couched in spotlessly politically correct boilerplate, this document laid out the party’s hopes of combining almost complete freedom from the legal structure of the iniquitous British state with the receipt of significant tax revenues from it. The timing of this move towards a rather suspicious form of federalism could hardly have been better. In September 2013, the Conservative Party held a snap election in response to the publication the previous month of the official inquiry into the Haram Riots. Blaming as it did the government for not predicting the violence and then bungling the response to it, David Cameron took the bold step of going to the country to establish a new mandate for dealing with the repercussions of the riots. Though the Conservatives won re-election with a still-respectable majority, the Islamic Party, aided by the increasing geographical polarization of the country, secured 38% of the nationwide Muslim vote and eleven seats in Parliament. Mirroring the Islamic Party in these successes was the BNP, also entering Parliament for the first time with five seats.
In early 2014, the global economy slid into recession as oil prices surged to $300 dollars per barrel. A retrospective consensus among experts that Peak Oil had in fact arrived in 2009 made it clear to governments around the world that fossil fuels would no longer be able to support modern economic growth. Though scientists and engineers were guardedly optimistic that the long-term prospects of alternative energy sources supporting existing societal structures and continued economic growth were good, the short and medium-term problems faced by politicians around the world were far more severe.
The direct effects of the economic slump on the UK economy were less serious than those faced by many developed countries, but they massively compounded extant social problems. Welfare benefits were greatly reduced, with the elderly and certain ethnic minorities bearing the brunt of the cuts. Islamic groups, including the Islamic Party itself, saw opportunity in adversity. Setting up their own (illegal) hospitals and social welfare systems, they greatly increased their support and bolstered their electoral position, as Muslim voters continued deserting traditional political parties. It was not lost on observers that this strategy for maintaining and extending political legitimacy was a direct parallel to the activities of Hezbollah and other non-state actors in the Muslim Middle East.
Government efforts to regulate these new developments and exert some degree of political control over them were limited. There was no desire to spark renewed violence along the lines of the Haram Riots, nor was it lost on the government that its own fiscal burden was somewhat lightened by these emerging social movements. However, the establishment of a degree of de facto autonomy by Muslim-dominated areas was a dangerous precedent. The implications of gradually withdrawing the presence of the state from said areas at the same time as Muslim calls for official autonomy were becoming more vocal were not lost on interested observers on either side of the issue. However, for neither the first nor the last time, short-term considerations trumped long-term political vision. By early 2016, it was rapidly becoming clear that the rule of British law simply did not obtain in Muslim areas to any significant degree, and that many functions of the state were being usurped by those acting in the name of Islam.
Needless to say, the UK’s problems were broadly mirrored by the failures of other European countries to deal any more effectively with the raft of problems their Muslim populations presented them with. However, the collapse of civilian government in the Netherlands in 2018 following the April 17 military coup sent shockwaves through the whole of Europe, and the UK was as buffeted by them as anywhere else. The Dutch military had announced on national TV that it had dissolved the government and was in the process of piecing together an emergency replacement under the leadership of Geert Wilders. It also stated, as the military took to the streets to enforce military law and man strategic positions throughout the country, that it planned to take any and all measures deemed necessary to the survival of the Dutch state. The liberal application of force to large numbers of dissenting Muslims, which commenced the same day, causing dozens of fatalities, constituted a massive discontinuity for European politics. It also opened the floodgates to a tide of speculation in the UK that a Dutch-style situation was inevitable if drastic measures were not taken immediately.
Against this backdrop, it was hardly surprising that the already manifest fragmentation of UK society accelerated towards its natural end point. Forced to form a fractious coalition to stay in government in the 2018 election, the Conservatives could do little but look on as almost complete residential segregation of Muslims and significant entrenchment of other minorities was accompanied by the formation of large numbers of militias throughout the country. Though exhibiting greatly different degrees of funding, organization and manpower, this collage of non-state actors was both a reflection of declining state authority and an accelerating factor in that decline. Muslim areas saw emerging power struggles between the Islamic Party militia and other rapidly sprouting groups, as turf battles and the collection of ‘security contributions’ became an ever-more frequent fixture for Muslims in the UK. The newly-formed and delightfully oxymoronic Islamic Freedom Party started to pull electoral support away from the Islamic Party, with bloodshed becoming an ever more frequent result of these efforts. The police now displaying a conspicuous lack of interest in either patrolling Muslim areas or pursuing the perpetrators of fratricidal Muslim violence, brute force became the key component of political legitimacy in Muslim Britain. Needless to say, the implementation of some form of shari’a law became a key concern for many involved in this power struggle. The sale or consumption of alcohol, ‘immodest’ dress on the part of women, the playing of music; all these activities and more were clamped down on with greater or lesser degrees of vigilance, making street scenes from huge swathes of urban Britain converge ever more closely on what might be expected from the tribal areas of Pakistan.
On the other side of the conflict, areas in direct contact with concentrations of Muslims saw equal and opposite forces arise. Gangs of young men with baseball bats were at one end of the spectrum; at the other were umbrella groups of uncertain provenance who were widely rumoured to have contacts high up in military and government circles, and who exercised a significant degree of influence over the activities of those at the street level. Military and ex-military involvement in these organizations was clearly extensive, with the weakness of the government in general and, in particular, its increasing reliance on a military well-disposed to it, making it difficult to effectively oppose these developments.
Chronic low-level violence punctuated by isolated flare-ups had now become the default state of affairs in and around urban areas unfortunate enough to have large Muslim concentrations. It was widely thought to be only a matter of time before the violence escalated, and events were not to disappoint in this regard. In Haringey, London, in August 2020, gradual Muslim encroachment into non-Muslim areas, accompanied by the demanding of a ‘dhimmi rate’ (i.e. extremely large) security contribution from local residents, met an unexpectedly fierce response one Thursday evening. A number of Muslim enforcers out collecting their weekly contributions were attacked by highly organized groups of masked men throughout borough. In the attack, clearly coordinated very carefully, between 20 and 30 Muslim enforcers were waylaid over a fifteen minute period and soundly beaten. None of them were so badly hurt as to be unable to stagger back to their own territory fairly easily, however. Indeed, their injuries were of a uniformity which might, we can say with the benefit of hindsight, have given the more prudent food for thought.
Not more than half an hour later, an angry mob of approximately 200 Muslim men, armed with a wide variety of blunt and bladed objects, swarmed back up the main road from their own area into the predominantly white area where their coreligionists had been attacked shortly before. No sooner had they entered the area (unspoken boundaries being well understood by all concerned by this stage), than they were met by a withering hail of rifle fire from surrounding buildings and other locations. Later estimates and reconstructions would suggest that approximately twelve men were involved in the attack, firing from raised vantage points strung out along both sides of the road. A total of 48 were killed in the attack but only fifteen wounded, the unusual killed-to-wounded ratio being accounted for by the repeated shooting of already wounded men. One body had been shot fourteen times.
The police did not arrive at the scene of the attacks for fifteen minutes after the shooting stopped, prompting speculation that senior figures somewhere in government must have been colluding with the shooters. Door-to-door and other enquiries came up against a wall of silence, and a complete absence of obvious physical evidence such as empty shell casings from assumed firing positions indicated the degree of professionalism of the attack. Forensic examination of the gunshot injuries of the deceased indicated that most of the rifles used in the attack were SA10s, the new standard-issue rifle adopted by the British Army in 2017.
Though Muslims in the Haringey area were careful to focus their collection efforts on their fellow believers after the attacks, the ramifications of rogue elements in the military or ex-military communities orchestrating incidents like the Haringey attacks were clear to both sides. British intelligence had long been warning the government of the ever-increasing quantities of guns, ammunition, and explosives being smuggled into the country, but a new spike was clearly evident after the Haringey Turkey Shoot, a moniker attached to the attacks by less-than-charitable segments of the British population. Killings and arson attacks in and around key zones of tension between Muslims and non-Muslims, ever-present in the background prior to August 2020, became more common, more brutal, and more reliant on firearms than ever before. It seems that the UK is now being sucked inexorably towards either a Dutch-style military coup or a descent into warlordism. The only question is which it will be.